Green Purchasing Guide
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Green Purchasing Guide

We are committed to the protection of the environment. This guide is intended to help anyone within the Torridge area when purchasing goods or services. It compliments our Sustainable Procurement Guide (and Corporate Procurement Policy) which are available as downloads in the 'Doing Business with the Council' section of this website.

Torridge District Council, is committed to the protection of the environment. We consider the environmental impacts of the products we buy and use and look to extend the range of "green" goods and services that are available where practicable.

Our environmental policy is an active one, being an integral part of our business plan and we have made the following commitments:

  • To help the customer make an informed choice
  • To work with customers and suppliers to increase the range of "green" products
  • To prevent pollution and reduce waste where possible
  • To continually improve our own environmental performance

Our Environmental Policy:

The Property and Procurement Team provide a central procurement service for Torridge District Council including contracting and supply chain management. Our Environmental Policy is an active one. By following this we contribute to making Torridge a greener place to live and in communicating this to our customers, contractors and suppliers we encourage others to think in a sustainable way. As an example, products in our internal CedAr catalogue are labelled to identify if they are recycled - we do however recognise that customers choice may be based on other factors and that in some cases this may not be the most environmentally friendly option. Further guidance is available in our Sustainable Procurement Guide which is available on our Doing Business with the Council pages

Our key commitments are:

  • To comply with any environmental legislation, corporate policy or other requirements relevant to our activities.
  • To ensure that our staff are adequately informed and act in accordance with this policy.
  • To improve continually our environmental performance by setting realistic objectives and targets and to regularly review our progress.
  • To minimise the detrimental environmental impacts associated with our activities and increase the positive environmental impacts where possible.
  • To prevent pollution and mitigate any actual incidents of pollution as far as possible.
  • To follow the principles of waste minimisation – reduce / re-use / recycle.
  • To communicate our Environmental Policy to contractors working on our properties and encourage environmental best practice.
  • To consider sustainability as an important criterion in any procurement.
  • To look for new processes and alternative products to lessen our environmental impact.
  • To develop our services, systems & processes in line with the national e-government initiative to reduce our reliance on paper.
  • To make this policy available to any member of the public who requests it.

This Policy will be reviewed on an annual basis for relevance and effectiveness by the Council's Procurement Board

Purchasing Issues

Until recently, the environmentally friendly product was often more expensive and often not quite up to the same standard as its ordinary counterpart. However, technological advances in recent years have meant that standards have improved rapidly, and quality and prices are now comparable, with prices often cheaper for the 'green' option.

Environmental issues can be confusing - there's a wealth of information for each individual area for you to consider. It's therefore important to bear a few points in mind:

  • Every bit helps.
  • Tackle the 'biggest' areas first - this will of course vary from organisation to organisation.
  • Choose the area where you can have the most impact and do something about that first.
  • Disposal issues at the end of a products lifecycle - can it be re-used or recycled, and if not, can it be disposed of safely? This needs to be considered before making the purchase.

Environmental Purchasing Issues

Before purchasing consider the following:


  • Excess packaging generates large amounts of unnecessary waste, most of which goes to landfill. Consider the level of packaging that comes with a product to decide whether an alternative can be used.

Recycled Content

  • The manufacture of products using raw materials (such as sand and metal ore), causes destruction of the landscape (during excavation), air pollution (during transportation), and uses large amounts of energy and water during production. Use recycled products where possible.

Energy Efficency

  • Energy efficient products benefit the environment by using less energy and therefore reducing energy generation. The generation of energy from fossil fuel sources produces vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), causing destruction of the landscape, natural habitats and visual pollution.

Long Life

  • Consider products which are more durable and do not need to be replaced as frequently, reducing the amount of material going to landfill. It is worthwhile spending more on a product which will last three or four times longer.

Less Disposal Impact

  • Consider products which can be easily recycled, repaired or reused after they have been finished with to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Disposal to landfill should be the option of last resort.

Reduced Transport

  • Where possible choose products which have not been transported over long distances. This reduces the pollution from vehicle exhausts and helps to support the local community.

Low Pollution

  • Choose products which cause low levels of pollution, either through their manufacture, usage or disposal. This could relate to lower levels of raw materials used, lower levels of energy or water used, reduced transportation, reduction in chemical content or reduction in packaging.


  • Only order what you need, help save resources and don't over order beyond your requirements. A moment's thought may save you money and help the environment.


The introduction of Landfill Tax has focused attention of many organisations and individuals on the forgotten product of their activities - waste.

Recycling of waste is attracting considerable interest and is often the most cost-effective solution of disposal. By managing their waste streams many have seen a positive financial benefit. Below are some of the items that can be recycled easily. Many companies offer a collection service, incentives to recycle and are happy to advise what schemes are best for any organisation.

Recycling is good for the environment but remember that what is best for the environment is if the waste is not produced in the first place and that re-using an item for another purpose is even better that recycling it.

An outline of what can be recycled:


Use rechargeable batteries where possible. Normal batteries contain toxic metals and take 50 times more energy to make than you can get out of them. Devon County Council Recycling Centres will accept used batteries so collect yours and take them along when it's convenient. You can also take them to our offices at Bridge Buildings or Riverbank House for recycling.


Both steel and aluminium cans can be recycled and can save a lot of energy compared with making the cans from the raw materials. In Torridge these items can be placed in your 'Green Box' if you have one.


All types of cardboard are recyclable. In Torridge these items can be placed in your 'Green Wheelie Bin' if you have one - be sure to break boxes down first to save space.


End of life computers are recyclable and many can be refurbished for use by other organisations. Torridge District Council uses a company called Lamp Recycle

Fluorescent Tubes

Fluorescent tubes contain a small quantity of mercury. It is now possible to have the tubes collected and have the contents recycled. Torridge District Council uses a company called Lamp Recycle . It is untrue that fluorescent lights should be left on to save energy, encourage everyone to switch off lights not in use and take care that all light fittings are kept free of dust.


Re-melting glass uses 40 - 60 % of the energy used to make new glass. When using bottle banks remember to keep coloured glass separate from clear glass and remove labels and lids. Don't forget that glass jars can also be recycled. Attractive new products such as wall tiles and paving blocks made from recycled glass are now available. In Torridge glass bottles and jars can be placed in your 'Green Box' if you have one.

Grass cuttings and Garden Waste

These can be easily composted or used as a mulch to keep down weeds thus reducing the need for weed killers. Contractors for Torridge District Council deliver grass cuttings to a commercial composter who produce a soil conditioner that is then sold through garden centres. In Torridge Garden Waste can be placed in your 'Green Wheelie Bin' if you have one.

Newspapers/magazines and journals

Rather than everyone having their own copy why not circulate journals, magazines and newspapers. In Torridge any newspapers and glossy magazines can be placed in your 'Green Bag' if you have one.


Torridge District Council recycles most internal paper. In Torridge paper can be placed in your 'Green Bag' if you have one. Did you know that the 350,000 sheets of headed paper which Torridge District Council used last year were  from 100% recycled paper (post consumer waste) made in Britain!


Buy products made from recycled plastic and recycle plastic where possible. In Torridge recyclable plastic (such as plastic milk bottles) can be placed in your 'Green Box' if you have one (it's fun to stand on them to squash them but make sure they are empty first!).


All metals are recyclable. Both steel and aluminium tins can be placed in your green box if you have one.

Mobile phones

Recycling is becoming increasingly common - ask your retailer to take them back or better still take them along to your local charity shop for recycling.

Printer Ink Cartridges

Many supplies organisations operate a recycling scheme for used printer ink cartridges in conjunction with manufacturers. Torridge District Council has arrangements with their suppliers to collect used cartridges as they deliver new stock.

Vending Cups

Vending cups presently come in three different types:

  • Waxed paper cups which cannot currently be recycled.
  • Expanded polystyrene cups which can be recycled, although facilities are not widely available.
  • Polystyrene (plastic) cups which can be easily recycled.
  • Torridge District Council encourages staff to use glasses or mugs wherever practicable.


Large quantities of wood can be used in the production of chipboard etc. Old timbers may be attractive to reclaimed building materials merchants. There are many charitable organisations that refurbish old furniture.

Product Life-Cycle Considerations

Consider environmental criteria for each stage of the product life-cycle.


  • Reduce the usage of a product.
  • Reuse old or redundant products.
  • Consider using more recycled products to reduce the use of raw materials.


  • Consider extraction which is as close to the place of production as possible.
  • Consider extraction processes that conserve energy and water and minimise the generation of hazardous waste.
  • Consider the use of raw materials from sustainable sources and practices.


  • Consider the levels of energy and water used.
  • Consider the levels of pollution produced during production and also the amount of by-products.
  • Consider hazardous or problematic ingredients.
  • Consider the level of packaging used.
  • Consider transport levels.


  • Consider the number of accessories which are included with a product.
  • Consider products which are long life or low energy.


Consider products which can easily be separated into recyclables or have practical second uses.


Consider suppliers who have:

  • An environmental policy.
  • An environmental management system.
  • A recognised environmental standard.
  • Been involved in an environmental project, community project etc.


The use of electricity in appliances needs to be considered. Many appliances are now sold with energy efficiency information provided. Whole life costs of equipment need to be taken into account before purchasing: for example, a machine with a low capital cost but high on-going energy costs can work out more expensive than an energy efficient machine which has a slightly higher initial outlay. Staff need to be encouraged to switch off appliances overnight or when not in use for prolonged periods.

Service Contracts


For restricted tendering, when a "Select List" of tenderers would normally be used, it is accepted practice for prospective tenderers to be asked as part of a standard Questionnaire, what environmental credentials they have. This would include policies meeting the requirements of BS 7750, ISO 14001, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), or equivalent. Responses in this area are assessed as part of the overall suitability of a firm to bid for Torridge District Council contracts.

Where appropriate - i.e. where a questionnaire has not previously been supplied, we require tenderers to provide details of their environmental activities and standards.